Electronic discovery and its transformational consequences have been a defining feature of 21st century litigation. The sheer proliferation of data and associated complexity has necessitated the development of specialized software to manage and catalog this information. Data have become so complex that protocols surrounding metadata, i.e., data about data, have become a regular aspect of the discovery process. Agreements regarding the use and discoverability of electronically stored information (ESI) are commonplace in any case with a sufficiently large volume of documents. Continue reading ›
Although emojis have been included in smartphone operating systems for more than a decade, they are just starting to make their way into the world of litigation. While Apple’s emoji debut consisted of 54 emojis, made up primarily of different yellow smiley faces, iPhone now offers its users a broad range of hundreds of emojis, representative of different races, genders, cultures and religions. Today, there are close to 3,000 emojis in the Unicode Standard. As such, people can communicate a lot more through emojis, if they choose. And, the data shows this is what people are choosing. Over 10 billion emojis are sent each day throughout the world. Approximately 92 percent of all people who communicate online or through text messages on a smartphone use emojis, with more than one-third of them using emojis daily. Analysts have referred to the uptick in emoji use as “watching the birth of a new language.”
In 2015, emojis were mentioned in 14 federal and state court opinions. This number increased to 25 in 2016 and 33 in 2017. With the rules of the profession (Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules of Evidence) changing—slowly, albeit surely—to address the advent of social media and electronic communications, it is important to understand how emojis fit into the current legal landscape.
Continuing off our earlier blog post that had raised questions regarding attorney-expert communications in Barrick, et al. v. Holy Spirit Hospital, et al. (read here!), on July 10, 2014 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made official a rule change barring attorney-expert communications during discovery. Following its decision in Barrick, the Supreme Court approved an amendment to the Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 4003.5 concerning attorney-expert communication during discovery. This amendment to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure created a bright-line rule, and creates a difficult arena for attorneys to maneuver during the discovery process.
In the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
No. 76 MAP 2012
On Appeal from Superior Court 11/23/2011 Docket
Carl J. Barrick and Brenda L. Barrick v. Holy Spirit Hospital of the Sisters of Christian Charity Individually and d/b/a Holy Spirit Hospital, Sodexho Management, Inc., Sodexho Operations, LLC and Linda J. Lawrence
Affirming the en banc decision of the Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court created a bright-line rule denying discovery of communications between attorneys and expert witnesses.
It is well known the attorney-client privilege afforded to attorney-client communications gives an attorney the ability to develop theories and legal strategies with the aid of information given to him from his client. Equally as important to the ability for an attorney to strategize includes communication between the attorney and an expert witness. Pa.R.C.P. 4003 provides clear directives on what is covered as “privileged” between an attorney and her clients and witness to ensure attorneys have every ability to strategize and devise legal strategies without fear of compromising confidential information or of exposure.